If you’re a regular at Pusat Rakyat LoyarBurok (MCCHR), you may’ve noticed that apart from the awesome images of Lord Bobo everywhere and myriad UndiMsia! and LoyarBurok merchandise, there are pamphlets and posters on the wall beside the main door. The sort that describe the struggle of Sarawak’s indigenous peoples against the construction of mega dams in Sarawak.

Some of you may wish to know more about the issue. Some may hope to hear stories and experiences from the affected people themselves. In fact, some of you may wonder if LoyarBurok really cares about them, and if we do, why aren’t we doing something more concrete than sticking a bunch of pamphlets about the issue? Surely, Lord Bobo can do better than watch from afar while chomping on purple bananas? If these questions sum up your thoughts and feelings, then we have good news for you.

Do they really live a life of displacement? | Source: http://bit.ly/Vgu59e

Between 23 October and 28 October, 2012, seven groups consisting of Save Rivers Network, Baram Protection Action Committee, Integrated Development for Eco-friendly and Appropriate Lifestyle (IDEAL), Peoples Documentary, Malaysiakini and Bersih Sibu, will organise for a group of Sarawakian activists, a trip to Peninsula Malaysia. These activists will visit various places and share their experiences regarding various environmental issues in Sarawak, with special focus on mega dams and aluminium smelting plants. But guess what – the MCCHR is one of the co-organisers, so the Pusat Rakyat LoyarBurok will actually be hosting a session on Friday, 26 October 2012, at 8.00 p.m.

As usual, all of you’ve been commanded by Lord Bobo to attend this event (okay, not commanded, but invited). The activists involved in Sarawak’s environmental quandaries will be sharing their experiences with us. There’ll also be a documentary screening by Peoples Documentary, a collective which has made many documentaries on the environmental issues in Malaysia, including Sarawak.  Of course, in line with LoyakBurok’s spirit to bring fun into activism, the whole night won’t be all talk. There’ll also be cultural music and dance performances by indigenous performers from Sarawak.

During the night, you may hear about the recent blockade in Murum by the Penans. If you feel for them, care about their suffering and want to know more about this under-reported issue, then this is the opportunity for it. On the other hand, if you believe the spin by you-know-who – that the (1) dams are for the benefit of these indigenous groups and (2) they have been instigated by foreign NGOs to act against the government, then you’re most welcome to drop by and undergo the 99 Most Extreme Tortures by Lord Bobo and his minions until you change your mind. (Okay, this is another joke.) If you have a different perspective of what’s happening, by all means come and feel free to share your views. After all, the Pusat Rakyat LoyarBurok is, and will always be, a venue for rational debate and discussion.

I know some of you’re interested to know about recent developments of the Bakun Dam project, a hot issue a few years back when the Sarawak government wanted to resettle the Penans to make way for the dam. What happened to the Penans after they were relocated? Did the government fulfill all their promises? (Or, to borrow a popular phrase in recent times, were the “janji dtepati or dichappati?”) Do the Penans live a better life now? Has the dam contributed to Sarawak’s economy since its completion in 2011? Beside Bakun and Murum, what are the locations of the other dams planned by the state government? Why’s the government so keen to build dams? What other benefit do they reap  for the economy? And for goodness sakes, why does Pusat Rakyat LoyarBurok only allocate a small fraction of its walls to graffiti? (The last question may or may not be a joke.)

Is this just a picture of propaganda or has life improved? | Source: http://bit.ly/TokUIk

You can also take this opportunity to know more about the lives of the indigenous peoples affected by the construction of those mega dams and the motivation behind their opposition to it. For example, why are they so dead set against those dams? Are they anti-development? Don’t they want to live a better life than what they have now? Are they really naïve, not-so-intelligent people that can easily be provoked by NGOs and the orang putih? How much money has George Soros provided to these NGOs for their evil plan to destabilise the government? (For an answer to the last question, please invite your friends in mainstream media to come by so they can spin write a balanced report about it.) If you can’t attend the 26 October session at the Pusat Rakyat LoyarBurok, perhaps consider the sessions at other venues:

Date: Tuesday, 23 October  | Time: 8 pm  | Venue: Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall

Date: Wednesday, 24 October | Time: 8 pm | Venue: Pusat Khidmat DUN Semambu Keadilan, Kuantan (TBC)

Date: Thursday,  25 October | Time: 8 pm | Venue: Tasik Chini

Date: Saturday, 27 October | Time: 8 pm | Venue: Wisma Chatwind, Sempelit, Raub

Date: Sunday, 28 October |Time:  3 pm | Venue: 5th flr, Komtar, Penang

More details can be found on the Facebook pages of Reclaim Sarawak Environmental Rights here and here.

To end this article, I’d like to share a music video by the Peoples Documentary, “Jangan Bunuh Kami Dengan Empangan”. The lyrics accurately describe the feelings of those affected people. Enjoy!


(Featured image accompanying article on main page courtesy of Abdul Halim Hadi Aleng, source: http://bit.ly/VpvzUx)

Rayner Yeo is a busybody that likes to annoy other people with his wicked sense of humour. He can be found at facebook.com/rayner.yeo and Twitter @RaynerYeo